Passport Faults & Mistakes On Passports

We always recommend customers routinely check their passports for damage, wear and tear as these issues cost travelers thousands of pounds every year in missed holidays, additional travel plans and the inconvenience of needing to replace your existing passport. However, with this in mind there are some parts of your passport that you can not inspect for damage like the bio-metric chip. Damage to these very sensitive chips can go completely unnoticed, that is until you need them the most. Other issues that can also go unnoticed are mistakes on your passport, simple mistakes like spelling errors, place of birth or even your gender.

Find out how to avoid this damage and how to replace or amend your passport once it has been issued.




Mistakes on your passport application

Many concerns regarding mistakes on your passport revolve around ensuring your passport application is complete and correct before submitting it to The Passport Office. Mistakes in your application can be varied, including misspelled name, errors in personal details or even errors in how your mistakes are amended on your application.

We can not stress enough the importance of ensuring your application, whether your applying by post or online, is complete and correct, this will not only help with a smooth application process but will also help avoid further costs later down the line in replacement passports and missed travel plans.


Paper applications

If you are applying for your new passport by post you will be using a paper application, these applications can be obtained from one of the larger Post Office branches, smaller Post Office branches no longer stock passport applications.

Before you send your application, here are the key points to remember when filling out your application form. If you can amend any mistakes at this point in your application process it will help avoid further costs and disruption later down the line.

• Always use a black ballpoint pen - lighter colours could cause your form to be rejected

• Always write using clear capital letters - Illegible writing will be refused

• Black out mistakes with a black ballpoint pen - Do not cross them out or use correction fluid

• You are only allowed 3 character mistakes per application - This means if you need to block out 3 or more character boxes on any one application you will need to start a new application or it will be rejected.

• Write within the white boxes and keep your signatures within the border.

• Send original documents this includes documents directly from the General Register Office as these are classed as originals - photocopies or scans will not be accepted

• Make sure you have two colour photographs taken within the last month - They must adhere to the photo guidelines.

Please note: If you are using the 'Check and Send' service provided by The Post Office this is NOT a guarantee that your passport application will be accepted, so please ensure that you check and recheck all the information you provide.


Online applications

Applying online is fast becoming the most popular way to apply for your new passport. This is for several reasons, the main reason being due to the new prices changes that are now in force driving the price of a paper application up by £12.50 whereas online applications have only gone up by £3.00.

Another great advantage of online application is correcting any mistakes you may have made is a lot easier than paper applications. Paper applications only allow 3 character mistakes per application anymore and you will need to start a new application. Online applications allow you the time to check spellings and information as many times as you like and correct them without any hassle.

As you are filling out all of the information online there is no need to worry about writing outside of the boxes, smudges and smears on your application etc. However, there are still a few things you need to be aware of:

• Please be wary of web browsers auto-fill settings for information entered on online forms, as it may fill a field incorrectly without your knowledge.

• Please ensure your signature is fully within the box when signing the Declaration Form.

• Your signature must also not be touching the edges of the box.

• Throughout filling in your online application double check all spelling - Correcting errors at this point is much easier then after you have submitted your application.

• When arranging a passport appointment please ensure that the applicants names and the attendees name are accurate - if you do make a mistake with the attendee's name this can be changed up to 2 clear days prior to your appointment.

No matter how you send your application there is always a chance that mistakes might happen it's all about how to minimize the risks of this occurring as much as possible.




I have found a mistake on my new passport

If you have recently received your first-time passport or your renewal it is important to check your passport document as soon as possible to ensure that all the details are correct. Details to check include all spellings of names and places and your date of birth.

If you spot a mistake at this point it is vital the you contact Her Majesty's Passport Office as soon as possible and certainly within 30 days to report the error. If The Passport Office find that it was caused by admin error they will replace your passport at no extra cost to you.

To report an error or mistake please call: 0300 222 0000
Monday-Friday between 8:00-20:00
Saturday-Sunday between 9:00-17:30

However, if The Passport Office find that the mistake is an error on your application and therefore your fault you will be required to pay for a replacement passport in full. Please also note if the error is due to admin error at the fault of the Passport Office but you fail to report it within 30 days you will also be required to pay for a replacement passport.




How do I know if my passport is damaged?

Thousands of people need to replace their existing passport due to damage but many people are still unaware the differences between a damaged passport and a passport with reasonable wear and tear. Know the differences could mean the difference between paying out for a replacement passport or travelling freely on your existing passport.

To help you identify if your passport is damaged please look for any of the following:

• Personal details are indecipherable (non-readable).

• The laminate has lifted enough to allow the possibility of photo substitution.

• Discoloration to the bio-data page.

• Chemical or ink spillage on (any page).

• Missing or detached pages

• The chip or antenna shows through the end paper on the back cover for the new style e-passports

If you see that your passport has any of the above you will need to replace your passport before you travel and definitely before you book any travel plans.




What is reasonable wear and tear?

When checking your passport for wear and tear, it's worth noting that if you travel a lot and have plenty of visas and stamps in your passport it's certainly more likely that your passport will be more worn than the average passport. There are certain things to look for when deciding whether it needs replacing or not.

The keys things that need to be looked at are -

• Making sure there are no stains or water marks on any pages

• All the information is clear and readable

• The laminate on your photo page is securely in place

• There are no damaged or missing pages

• The chip is in place and undamaged

• The passport binding is secured and not disintegrated

If you are still unsure whether your passport is damaged or just has wear and tear you can make an appointment at your local passport office by calling: 0300 222 0000 and they will advise you on if you need to replace your existing passport or not.




Damaged bio-metric chip

A part of your passport that is not or shouldn't be seen with the naked eye is the bio-metric chip in your passport. Damage to this chip can go completely unnoticed and if this is the case the only time you will know of any damage is when you are at boarder control and by that point it is already too late.

If you notice severe damage to the chip ie. You can see the chip or its antenna sticking out of the passport document or it is missing this is a clear indication that you will need to replace your passport immediately as these faults are noticeable and will render your passport unusable.

Other damage might occur that you will not be able to see and as we stated earlier this damage put you in an inconvenient position at boarder control. Damage to the chip can be cause by many different things including excessive use, going through the washing machine and/or tumble dryer and other damage caused by water and heat.




Damaged passports and Customs Boarder Control

If you are unaware that your bio-metric chip has been damaged and you are stopped at Customs Boarder Control this might present a difficult challenge as some countries including the USA will not grant you entry without the chip and passport in good condition. This could result in a loss to travel plans extra expenses as well as the disappointment of a missed holiday.

If you find yourself in this situation and you are unable to continue your travels the best thing to do is apply for an emergency travel document this will allow you to travel safely back you the UK.




How to avoid damage

To help avoid extra costs and the hassle of replacing your passport the easiest thing to do is ensure your passport is keep in a safe place and preserved as best as possible. Here are a few tips to help you keep your passport in excellent condition:

• Always keep your passport in a safe place at home

• Keep away from direct heat, sunlight and water

• Keep in a secure box away from any pests or where pets could gain access

• Do not carry it with you as ID

• When travelling keep in a zip lock bag

Hopefully the information in this article will help you prevent damage and rectify and damage caused.

Need more information?

Talk to the Passport Office team

Call Passport Advice Line

Lines open 8am-8pm


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Our blog is full of useful tips and interesting facts about the world of Passports and Travel.

Passports Office provides relevant information about new passports, renewing an existing passport, and the contact details of key UK passport offices.

This website is not affiliated with Her Majesty's Passport Office from which similar information is available from gov.uk. We are an independent service provider offering services & advice. We charge a service fee of £15.00, £19.00 or £29.00 per applicant, for further support in addition to HM Passport Office fees for your passport.

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